Are 110v electric kettles too slow?

I’m not sure if this counts as a poll or not, but as I’m aiming for a factual answer, let’s start in GQ.

Several threads have commented that Americans mostly use stove-top kettles, which died out decades ago in most other developed countries. It has been suggested that Americans shun electric kettles because they are too slow with 110 volt electricity. I would like to test that. We need to understand the time to boil water with an electric kettle, and with stove-top kettles, and for good measure, let’s have overseas people measuring the time taken using higher voltage electric kettles. And why not throw in the microwave too, as in the other threads some people remarked that that was their favorite method.

So, please measure the time taken to boil one liter (35 fl.oz is close enough) and report the method used. For electric kettles, time until automatic shut off. For stove-top, until it whistles or boiling is vigorous. Also report any other significant factors, e.g. if you live at 10,000 feet. Electric stoves should not be pre-heated.

I’ll start:

110v electric kettle: 4 mins 50 seconds.

I’m confused – what’s the point of having an electric kettle if you’ve got a perfectly good stove right there?

Well, 3 minutes, 57 seconds with a regular kettle on a gas stove. So nyah! :cool:

My gas stove is really old and quite ferrocious, though. The thing nearly burns my face off every time I turn it on.

The voltage that an electric kettle runs on is irrelevant - it’s the electric power that determines how quickly the water is heated. It might be of interest to ask about the power rating of electric kettles used in different countries.

From my limited experience my impression is not that stove-top kettles have died out in most developed countries. Also if you use a gas stove a stove-top kettle gets to boiling very quickly indeed.

The question, as posed, really won’t give a good answer, because there are just too many variables left out. I doubt that all electric kettles are created equal (without going into any math about energy vs. power vs. voltage, just see tschild’s post above), just as microwave ovens are rated at different power (watt) outputs, so won’t give the same times to boiling. And certainly not all stoves are equal. Most of the professional-style gas cooktops sold for home use today are rated at 15,000 BTUs for their largest burners, with the higher-end models pushing 18,000 BTUs (and even more, if you spend for a dedicated wok burner), whereas the standard coil-type electric burners have lower outputs (I don’t have a solid number handy, but I’d guess probably around 8,000 BTUs or so). And finally, the water’s temperature at the starting point will make a difference, too.

Anyway, all that being said, my anemic electric stove did the job in 8 min. 3 sec. Starting water temperature was 66.7°F, and I’m about 600 ft. above sea level. Just a bit earlier, it took me about 4 minutes to boil a 12 oz. mug of water in the microwave (that was for making tea, not this experiment, so I didn’t pay attention to the details). Both these numbers are way, way worse than your electric kettle. Also, if it matters, I used a saucepan for the experiment, since I don’t own a kettle of any kind.

The answer is: “Not anymore”

It used to be that you couldn’t buy a fast (i.e., high wattage) electric kettle in the U.S. In the 1970s, when I lived in California, I installed a European style, high wattage outlet on the kitchen wall connected to the 220V outlet that supplied the electric range. I plugged a European kettle into it and used the kettle in preference to a stove top kettle on the electric range because it was faster. Then in the 1980s, in a 230V country, I used an old, British-made kettle that was so fast that you couldn’t leave the room after turning it on or it would boil dry. Back in the U.S., I bought a 110V kettle that was so slow it was a joke. However, in the past month, I know of both a German and a Finn who have purchased plastic, 110V, 1500W electric kettles in the U.S. Both are very happy with the speed. One of them has quit using both her microwave and her stove top kettle to boil water. I still doubt that the fastest 110V kettle is as fast as the fastest 220V kettle (the 220V models are inherently more efficient and therefore probably come in higher wattages) but I think the answer to the question, “Are 110v electric kettles too slow” is, not anymore.



I’m assuming you’re writing this from the perspective of someone in the UK area. My WAG is that the differences are more due to the fact that the per-capita consumption of coffee is about twice as high in the US than in the UK, and that the per-capita consumption of tea is about eight times higher in the UK than in the US (Sample cite for tea ). Ergo, people in the US are more likely to fixate on coffee makers than on teakettles, and vice versa elsewhere.

My electric kettle , rated at 230V 2 kW boiled 1.5 litres ( 54 fl oz ) of quite cold tap water in just under 4 minutes.

Rival switchless model SK61 (120V/1000W) boiled 35 fl. oz. from the cold tap in 3 minutes and 19 seconds.

There’s something else we’re missing here- limescale buildup can affect boiling times for electric kettles quite dramatically. The Brit kettles I’m used to invariably have a removable lid for filling and cleaning; this one is sealed, and the only way to fill it is pouring into the spout. I’m fairly confident this thing would have turned out boiling water in under two and a half minutes had it been clean. Hardly, if at all, slower than a UK 240V model. Isn’t it the wattage that makes the difference anyway?

For my money, Americans don’t buy kettles because the design of American kettles is horrible. I hunted for months for a kettle with a switch- a SWITCH- and never found one. Hunted for more months for a cordless (so much safer, in my book) and couldn’t find one of those either. Thus I settled for the abovementioned POS, bought from WalMart 3-off years ago.

Yeah, I’ve never found an electric kettle here with a switch and they usually have these really huge spouts which make pouring water out of them very messy. I don’t know who designs these things. Even good standard kettles are getting hard to find - the one I currently have requires water to be poured into it through the spout making cleaning IMPOSSIBLE. Tea Pots on the other hand are very easy to find - lots of imported ones from Britain as well as local varieties.

240v 3000w Morphy Richards…2 minutes 20 seconds. What do I win? :smiley:

It never occurred to me that there was that much difference between the U.S. and Canada when it came to kettles, but there is definitely no shortage of plug-in kettles in the northern-most neighbour. On the other hand, I don’t think I’ve seen a non-stovetop kettle in Japan.

I agree . We do drink coffee in the UK but a lot of it is instant. So we just boil the kettle and pour the water into the cup after adding the powder or granules. Even with the plunger type of coffee maker ( with “real” coffee) an electic kettle is the quickest way to make a cup.

Most Japanese use either a thermos pot filled from a stovetop kettle, or more commonly an electric dispensing pot. We don’t care how long it takes to boil the water because there’s always hot water in the pot ready to use.

This is probably because boiling water is not the best way to make green tea. 80C is usually quoted as the optimal temperature.

My guess about stove-top kettles is that they’re more common in areas with gas supplies. A kettle on an electric hob will surely take far longer than an electric kettle.

240v 2400watts 2-35.

Yeah, I know - I was perhaps naively hoping that I would get so many responses that it wouldn’t matter much - we’d have an “average for US electric kettles” etc. After all, it could be that people don’t use electric kettles much in the US because there are only low-powered ones available.

Speed may not be the reason that electric kettles are rare in the US. I’m not trying to prove that to be the case. However, it has been mooted as a/the reason in previous threads, so I’m just trying to get to the facts of whether kettles are slower than the stove (and European/Antipodean kettles).

A nice cup of tea?

My kettle, bought in the US, is just like the ones in the UK. It is cordless, jug-style, with a lid and a switch. It is made by Krups.

I don’t think my electric kettle holds 1.5 liters so I cannot participate in the experiment. But I’d just like to say that the reason I have one - and I also have a gas stove - is that I don’t have a teapot for the stove and don’t feel like buying one when I have a perfectly good electric kettle that was just sitting around doing nothing. It’s either use the EK or use a regular pot on the stove, and then I have removed a pot from usage, and then I have to take up space in my dishrack while it dries. I don’t have to do any of that with an EK.

So that’s why I use one. Time has nothing to do with it. Maybe other people with stoves AND EKs feel the same way.